Michael's Reviews > The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
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's review
Feb 13, 2013

really liked it

The Shallows is a great read and still holds up today in 2013 even though it was originally written in 2009. Carr is an engaging writer who keeps things moving as he recounts the history of technology and its impact on brain function and intellectual life.

The theme here is one of technological determinism and he puts together a persuasive argument that the move from print to digital (and social) has changed the way our brains function. The modern world consists of "an ecosystem of interruption technologies" wherein it's difficult to focus on things while at the same time information is readily accessible.

He grounds his work in the concept of neuroplasticity--the idea that our brains are flexible and can readily adapt to new conditions and stimuli--and in research in web usage patterns and studies of comprehension. Interestingly, he cites research that indicates that old school "deep reading" activates different processing centers of the brain than reading on the web. Deep reading produces a quieter neural profile than reading on the web which involves more decision-making and focused attention to ignore opportunities to jump elsewhere.

I recommend this book to anyone who's trying to wrestle with the move to digital and its impact on our minds, our culture, and learning.

It's a quick read and worth the effort if you can find the time to focus your attention on it. As we know, there are all too many distractions vying for our brainspace and rewiring our brains these days.
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